News holds its own with the overall audience.
YOUNGSTOWN -- If ever there was a ratings book that looked like every other ratings book for the past few years, February's Nielsens would be it.
WFMJ-21 dominated nearly all news times, with WKBN-27 continuing its lead at noon. WYTV-33 continued to come in a distant third in most news categories. (Its "Wheel of Fortune" still dominates the early evening market.)
But one trend is becoming more and more apparent: Teenagers are tuning out in significant numbers when programming switches to news.
This is not exactly new, but none of the stations has shown an ability to hold on to that teen audience at 6 p.m.
For some time, the traditional media have been laboring to garner larger chunks of the 18-34 market. But the teenage audience is even more fickle, ready to shut off the television at a moment's notice.
Nothing demonstrates that more than what happens to WFMJ when "Oprah" goes off. Among men 18 and up, viewership goes from a 4 rating to a 9 as the news comes on. But teenagers, also a 4 rating (and a higher share) drop down to a 1 during the evening news. Women, meanwhile, hold steady at a 13 rating for both programs.
According to the latest book, WFMJ is not alone. Some local newscasts get so few teen viewers that the sample simply misses them.
On the other hand, teens are a significant portion of the viewership of most entertainment shows.
The good news, however, is that local television news continues to hold robust overall ratings, comparable to some entertainment shows in the broad market.
WFMJ's 6 p.m. ratings of 17 (a 31 share) compares favorably with shows like "Survivor" (15 rating/24 share).
A breakdown of ratings shows that at 6 p.m., WFMJ leads with a 17/31, followed by WKBN's 9/18 and WYTV's 5/10.
At 11 p.m., WFMJ is 13/32, with WKBN at 8/19 and WYTV at 4/10.
The 5 a.m. slot goes to WKBN narrowly, with a 3 rating and 34 share, compared to WFMJ's 3/27. WYTV has a 1/9.
By 6 a.m., though, WFMJ leads the morning news race with an 8 rating/40 share, compared to 4/21 for WKBN and 1/7 for WYTV.
The situation is quite different at noon, where WKBN retains a commanding lead, with a 9 rating/34 share. WFMJ has a 4/16 score, with WYTV out of the running with the now-canceled Jane Pauley show.
In previous books, everyone has credited the continuing success of "The Price Is Right" for drawing in viewers to the Channel 27 fold at noon.
Similarly, the "Oprah" show garners a large audience ahead of the evening news, helping Channel 21 retain much of its audience.